It's looking more and more like Bill Hall might have a consistent home this season.
Hall, the Milwaukee Brewers' Mr. Everything, has not been told which outfield position he will be playing in 2007, but the versatile player has an idea of where he will be standing on Opening Day in April.
"It's looking more and more like center field," Hall told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "unless some trade [for a center fielder] comes out of nowhere."
Manager Ned Yost told Hall the two will discuss what position he will play when they get together for the second annual "Winter Warm-Up."
"I'm sure the subject will come up," said Yost. "We've still got a month before the start of camp. We don't have to set it in stone right now."
Yost has Hall pegged for left field or center field. Last season, Hall played mostly shortstop in place of the injured J.J. Hardy, hitting 35 home runs and driving in 85 runners. But Hardy is expected to reclaim his spot at shortstop, thus forcing Hall to the outfield, where he made three starts in center field last season.
"It's no big deal to me," Hall said. "They want the best nine guys on the field at the same time. It makes sense right now. I've played a few games in center, so that will probably be the easiest for me to learn. I'm not a 'burner' by any means, but I can cover some ground out there. I'll just be happy to have a home after bouncing around the infield the last couple of years."
Mulder happy to return to Cards: Mark Mulder thinks he still has something to prove to fans of the St. Louis Cardinals.
After two years with the St. Louis Cardinals, Mulder has agreed to a new two-year deal with a club option for a third year.
"I had fun here and the one thing that ate at me was that no one in St. Louis -- not the coaches, the fans, even some of my teammates -- nobody in St. Louis has seen what I'm capable of doing," Mulder told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Even in 2005, it wasn't that bad, but it wasn't what I'm capable of doing. That wasn't the sole reason for coming back, but it was one of the reasons."
General manager Walt Jocketty isn't concerned with the idea that Mulder, who is coming off of shoulder surgery, may not be able to pitch until July.
"We looked at it being important with Mulder that we not only look at this coming season but look to the future as well and the possibility of having him and Carpenter with Wainwright, Reyes, [Blake] Hawksworth and Braden Looper in the rotation." said Jocketty.
Mulder was very pleased with a personal visit he got from Jocketty and the offer the Cardinals put on the table.
"I expressed to Tony and Walt then [in September] that I'd like to be back," Mulder said. "It never felt wrong. It never felt off or like I was looking because I wanted to go elsewhere. There was always the familiarity. But, yeah, it helped that St. Louis made it clear they wanted me back."
Crede's reputation grows: White Sox third baseman Joe Crede has put himself among the game's elite and has gained the attention of people all over the baseball world.
"Wherever we went last season, people from other teams would tell me how Joey really has turned into an elite player," White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker told MLB.com. "Joe Crede really has a huge amount of respect from people in the game.
"Not only is he a Gold Glove-caliber defensive player at third base, but he also has become an offensive force. Now, he's got to turn around and create a run of years back to back doing the same thing. I don't see a reason why he shouldn't."
And from all indications, Crede wants to stay with the White Sox for a while.
"I know Joe enjoys playing in Chicago. It's a very fine franchise," said Scott Boras, Crede's agent, when asked about his client's status at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla. "He likes his manager. He likes his teammates. Obviously, we follow the direction of what Kenny or [club chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] want to do with the players.
"If they want to talk about [an extension], we are willing to. If they don't, we understand the rules of the game and go forward. We are fine."
Reds think Keppinger is ready: Jeff Keppinger, acquired this week by the Cincinnati Reds, looks to be on the cusp of getting his chance to play at the Major League level for an extended time. He will, at least, get the opportunity to earn a spot with the Reds.
As a career .315 Minor League hitter, Keppinger has made enough of an impression on the Reds brass to prove he can continue his trend of hitting wherever he goes.
Cincinnati general manager Wayne Krivsky says that Keppinger knows he will need to do all he can on offense and defense if he wants to make the team this spring.
"To hit at the Major League level is the hardest thing to do, but if a guy has hit at the every level, he's got a chance," Krivsky told the Cincinnati Post. "When I spoke to him today, he knew the more positions he's able to play, the more valuable he'll be."
His aggressive approach should help, too.
"He's an aggressive player and puts the ball in play," Krivsky said. "His walks and strikeout numbers are similar to Norris Hopper. He's very capable defensively."
Pedro eyes midseason return: Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez was in Florida, dropping in on the team's mini-camp Wednesday. Recovering from rotator cuff surgery on Oct. 5, Martinez said he feels good and is aiming for a midseason return.
"Thanks to God, everything has gone perfect," he told Newsday. "I'm working hard. It's a long period of time, but it's paying off. Right now I'm good weight, good health, my range of motion is really good, so I'm very optimistic."
Martinez will be on hand when the Mets open Spring Training in February. However, the veteran right-hander will not be allowed to pick up a ball until March. Martinez has been told it will take eight to 10 months to recover from the surgery. While he is feeling healthy, Martinez knows it would not be wise to push the recovery process.
"The way I feel, I would say yes [to an earlier return], but I'm not going to take a chance, to be honest," he said. "I'm not going to take a chance. I'm going to do this one time and I'm going to do it well. I don't want to really get excited and expose myself to a difficult situation with no need. I was told exactly what I have to do. I'm going to follow that religiously and I'm just not going to let it go. I'm not going to disobey my program."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.